Fallen red tree branch. Orange County, 2017
Fallen red tree branch. Orange County, 2017

Live strong and prosper.

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DOWNLOAD PDF: How to Prosper

1. What is prosperity?

Prosper, prosperity, prosperus (Latin for “doing well”)

In ancient Chinese culture, prosperity and good luck are seen as the greatest blessings.

In modern society, we see “prosperity” as mostly financial, and economic. We see prosperity as having lots of money, having lots of objects, and by having lots of power and influence.

My view of prosperity is a bit different— I see prosperity as more of creative prosperity, or artistic prosperity. I believe in the Ancient Greek notion of “happiness” which is called “eudaimonia” (human flourishing). I think prosperity is human flourishing— flourishing as a creative artist, by making lots of pictures, lots of art, and constantly growing, evolving, becoming more powerful, and more self-confident.

2. What is your ultimate aim in life?

For me, my ultimate aim is creative freedom— in order to create art, further knowledge, and share that information with others.

Money is only a means or a bridge in order to give my life the financial freedom, in order to do that creative work, study, and application.

Put in another way, the purpose of my life isn’t to make as much money as I can before I die. Rather, I just need to earn enough money to pay my rent, my coffee (very expensive), my meat and egg snacks, transportation, and website server bill.

But trust me… modern society, modern media, and modern culture has me fucked up— I sometimes think (consciously or subconsciously) the purpose of being a human is to make as much money, accumulate as much power, and accumulate as much influence before I die.

But… who is going to care how many commas or zeros I got in the bank before I die, or who will care after I’m dead? Even if I did buy that Blacked Out Maybach before I die… I can’t drive it to the underworld of Hades with me. Same thing goes with a Lamborghini— in fact, it will probably cause me to have a premature death.

3. Prosperity to me.

NOMAD: IKKONTANAKA x ERIC KIM
NOMAD: IKKO TANAKA x ERIC KIM

To prosper, I think it comes all to having the right mindset, the right mental tools to view the world, physical strength, and positive energy.

IKKO TANAKA x ERIC KIM
IKKO TANAKA x ERIC KIM

For example, I credit being able to overcome fear with my intense Stoic training (thank you to my teachers Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus, Epicurus, Diogenes)— to truly ingest and assimilate their teachings, I’ve probably read their major works at least five times over.

Akira Kurosawa editing film

In terms of creatively flourishing, I’ve found a lot of inspiration in ancient poets like Horace. Also, inspiration from more contemporary thinkers like Nietzsche, or Nassim Taleb.

MIFUNE: 7 Samurai
MIFUNE: 7 Samurai

To prosper, it is all about changing your own attitude, changing your level of focus, drive, determination, hustle, and inner-strength.

MIFUNE: 7 Samurai
MIFUNE: 7 Samurai

For example, we cannot change the world, but we can change ourselves. Like a photographer, we can choose to change the lens in which we see the world. For example, when shit in life gets tough, put on a fisheye lens and see the world from a more comical perspective. Or, when you’re in an argument with your life partner or loved one, put on a wide-angle lens to see the world from their perspective. Or when shit gets tough, be like a racehorse with blinders— put on a telephoto lens and just stay focused on your own personal finish line (ignoring what others do).

MIFUNE: 7 Samurai
MIFUNE: 7 Samurai

Prosperity ain’t money. Prosperity is an attitude of seeing the world pregnant with opportunity, seeing the joy of living, and by being creatively determined, focused, and productive.

4. Make great pictures!

Family at Lucille’s BBQ.

Therefore, when it comes to “prosperity” or “happiness” in life… I suggest you to think in terms of creative prosperity. Does your lifestyle, objects, or tools encourage you to make more pictures and art? Or does your life discourage you from producing more pictures and art?

I think the German poet and polymath Goethe said it best:

“The causa finalis (final cause, or ultimate purpose) of a human is to make dramatic poetry!”

In other words, we can apply this saying by stating:

The purpose of a human being is to make great pictures!

As visual artists, we make pictures. Pictures with our camera, pictures by drawing, or any visual representation of the world. We are PHOTO GODS — we reshape, and rearrange, and reorder the molecules, atoms, and visual building blocks in the world with our camera. As photographers, we are the ultimate children of the lens, playing with making images, and playing by making pictures.

5. Never doubt yourself.

So friend, this letter is a boost for you. To boost you to higher creative levels, to boost your creative production, and above all— have unshakeable faith in yourself.

BE STRONG,
ERIC


PHILOSOPHY

ERIC KIM x RICOH GR II x ERIC KIM STRAP
ERIC KIM x RICOH GR II x ERIC KIM STRAP

Philosophy: love of wisdom.

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